Many people have heard of the Wright brothers and know they are credited with inventing and successfully flying the world’s first airplane! It’s an incredible piece of American history that has shaped the way the entire world travels.
On Dec. 17 we recognize their achievements and celebrate the anniversary of Orville and Wilbur’s first flight in 1903. Their story is often a quick blip in history classes and textbooks, we want to take a little bit of time and share how that first powered flight came to be.
The History of the Wright Brothers
Wilbur and Orville Wright were American inventors and are known to be the leading pioneers of aviation as we know it today. On Dec. 17, 1903, they achieved the first powered, sustained, and controlled airplane flight. While this was unbelievable on its own, they outdid their own accomplishment by building and flying the first fully practical airplane just two years later.
Wilber and Orville both showed an interest in mechanics and engineering from an early age. Part of a family of five children, the two grew up as playmates and best friends. Wilbur Wright was born on April 16, 1867, near Millville, Indiana; Orville Wright, was born in 1871.
Their father, Milton Wright was a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and his preaching frequently took him on the road. On his returns, he’d often bring the boys small toys. One of these toys—a small model helicopter made of cork, bamboo and paper, and powered by a rubber band—is considered to be the spark that ignited their lifelong love of aeronautics and flying.
Life before flight
When they were younger, the Wright brothers helped their father edit a journal called the Religious Telescope. After a few years, they left the journal to start their own weekly newspaper, the West Side News.
Always inclined towards mechanics, Wilbur and Orville opened their own bike shop in 1892, at the height of the bicycles craze that was sweeping the country. It’s here—fixing bicycles and selling their own designs—where they gained the skills needed to later invent a working airplane.
Working with these different mechanical projects, like bicycles and printing presses, and following the scientific research of German aviator Otto Lilienthal, inspired the brothers to start their own experiments in flight. When Lilienthal died in a glider plane accident in 1896, the made the decision that it was time to develop their own successful design and moved to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, which is known for its strong winds.
Wilbur and Orville began by observing how birds angled their wings for balance and control. Armed with this information, they set out to develop a concept they called “wing warping,” which led to their design for airplane wings. After adding a moveable rudder, which gave them better control, the brothers found the magic formula that gave them flight.
On Dec. 17, 1903 the Wright brothers made the first free flight of a power-driven, heavier-than-air airplane. Wilbur piloted the craft for 59 seconds, at an elevation of 852 feet.
Though they were not the first to build an aircraft, the Wright brothers did invent the three-axis control, which made a fixed-wing powered flight possible. In fact, their first patent—821,393—was not for a “flying machine,” but rather, the aerodynamic controls that manipulated the machine’s surfaces. With this breakthrough, a pilot could steer the plane effectively and maintain equilibrium throughout its flight.
Despite the fact that the Wright brothers found success in the air, there were people throughout the country that preferred to see them grounded. The media and other aviation experts were hesitant to believe the Wilbur and Orville’s claims of flight, and as a result, Wilbur took off to Europe, where he hoped to (and did) find a more receptive audience.
The move proved successful; Wilbur began giving many public flights to journalists, government officials, and society’s elite. In 1909, Orville joined his brother in Europe and the two began selling their airplanes. Shortly after, they returned to the U.S. where they finally found fame and wealth due to their incredible invention.
Make Your Own Airplane at Home
Your child might not have access to all the tools and heavy machinery needed to build their own airplane, but they can still celebrate this monumental anniversary by creating their own paper airplanes! Here’s how to do it.
As you’re making these paper airplanes with your child, share the history of flight with them—you never know, you might just inspire a lifelong love of aeronautics or engineering as well! Don’t forget to share your photos of their creations with us on Facebook!
This is our family's seventh year homeschooling and to be honest, it might be our last... I'll save my thoughts on that for another time, because today I want to share what I LOVE about homeschooling this time of year-- story time by the fireplace, complete with big mugs filled with hot chocolate and WAAAAAAAAY too much whipped cream!!
We've discovered a fun podcast that I think your kids will quickly become obsessed with too!
In The Radio Adventure of Dr. Floyd, we laugh as we listen (in the style of old-time radio) to how Dr. Floyd plans to fend off his nemesis Dr. Steve while learning about history in the process.
Try these EPISODES: "Bulls & Bears!" where Dr. Grant gets a little nervous about news of animals on Wall Street.
Or, "Voice of the Revolution!" where Dr. Steve tries to swipe Patrick Henry's 'Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death' speech.
Looking for Christmas-themed episodes? Listen to: "Twas the Night Before Floyd!" or "How Dr. Steve Stole Christmas!"
You can listen on iTunes or Stitcher.
I'd love to hear how your family connects during the busy holiday season. Board games? Dance parties in the kitchen? Christmas karaoke?
Are you in the holiday spirit yet? Some places are more festive than others-- for example, when we lived in Russia, I was feelin' it by mid-October, but to be honest, it never felt like Christmas during our time in Morocco...
So, if YOUR FAMILY needs a boost, I've made a list of my very favorite things-- books!
Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders will enjoy:
The Jolly Postman
A Christmas Carol
The Night Before Christmas
3rd, 4th, and 5th graders should take a look at:
The Family Under the Bridge
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
The Last Holiday Concert
Jake & The Gingerbread Wars
6th, 7th, and 8th graders can immerse themselves in
these American Christmas classics:
Gift of the Magi
A Christmas Story
I wouldn't want to leave out High school/Adult readers:
Mr. Dickens and His Carol
Christmas in America
Christmas 1945: The Greatest Celebration in American History
AND if you're looking for a new Christmas movie to add to your family's must-watch list, check out The Man Who Invented Christmas. You're welcome!
If you or your kiddos are bookworms like we are and have already read through this list, shoot me an email and I'll send you more suggestions directly to your inbox!
We are only a week away from opening up registration for the school year. Remember, I’ve been saying that we’re mixing things up for our 5th year in business and here is one of the big changes. As a result from your survey input, we have eliminated the standard box of books the we sent each child for their course and instead have replaced it with a age appropriate suggestions for books, games, and activities and a $150 Amazon gift card.
I love this new model because it eliminates your household from receiving duplicate materials! Or, you can purchase only the digital versions of the books if you like to really save space! You get to pick which items you want or you can even choose something that’s not even on the list. And trust me, $150 will buy a lot of books!
So, seriously, mark your calendar, put a reminder in your phone, sign up to get notified, or whatever you have to do to remember to register on August 29th.
I’m going to give you a sneak peak of the suggested purchases for each course. The lists are too fun not to share! So, click download to view this this gift guide pdf.
We have touched on a lot of topics over the summer. Educational apps, American idioms, U.S. Presidents, All-American movies and audiobooks, Colonial and American Revolutionary history, and U.S. Civics. Do you know what we haven’t looked at? U.S. geography and famous attractions!
I’ve put together a fun game that you can play with your kids. It works like this.
* Use the button below to print out the question and answer cards.
* Each card has ten clues on it listed from hardest to easiest.
* One person will read the card and the others will try to guess the answer before anyone else. BUT, if you guess incorrectly, you are out for that round.
* If you are the first to guess correctly then you get to hold onto that card.
* The person with the most cards at the end, wins!
I am a tourist attraction...
I am on an island...
In the American Civil War, I was a military barracks...
My name means “pelican” in Spanish...
In 1933, I became a federal penitentiary....
I have been the setting for many movies...
My nickname is “The Rock.”...
Al Capone and the Birdman spent some time here...
I was “liberated” twice by a group of Native Americans...
Where am I?
If you guessed Alcatraz before anyone else, then you would win the card!
Simple and fun, right? So go ahead and download your free printable and you can start playing right away!
I can honestly say that I have the BEST job. I get to interact with kids and parents who value the importance of keeping up with American history studies while living overseas.
If you haven’t already, read the blog post where I point to an article about a former Ambassador who talks about how he spent his childhood overseas, but was turned down form the Foreign Service twice because they felt he didn’t know enough about the U.S.
However, we live in age where our kids can keep up with their U.S. History studies with online lessons! I created these courses specifically for Foreign Service kids and have included all of the components required by the Fairfax County Schools standards of learning.
The lessons were designed for students to spend about 30-45 minutes one time a week to complete over the course of a school year. Check out the testimonials page to see what students have to say about the lessons. The say the funniest things and give rave reviews!
Well, I have rave reviews for the amount of effort and enthusiasm that my students put into each lesson. As I’ve said before, these kids are already so busy and involved with their school, community, and extra-curricular programs, but they are still willing to take on the extra responsibility of keeping up with American history! Good job to the all of my students and I also want to give a shout out to the PARENTS who are ensuring that our Foreign Service kids are excelling in this lifestyle.
As you know, I offer a lot of freebies and bonuses to my students, but here’s something for all of you supportive parents-- I want to treat you to a Starbucks coffee today! We, as parents of Third Culture Kids are all in this together. We're all working hard to make sure that our kids turn out “normal” at the end of this adventure. So, to honor you and show my gratitude for your service and commitment to our children, please, if you are in the U.S. (and I’m hoping that the timing of this will mean that many of you are either on R&R or Home Leave in the U.S…) but if you are in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, Australia, or Mexico today, then go get a #CoffeonUSHistoryAbroad!
You’ll find the barcode over in the FS Bidding Tools Facebook Group which is a place for all members of the Foreign Service Community to discuss overseas schools, post morale, EFM employment, and much more. If you haven’t joined, request to do so NOW because this gift expires Thursday night.
Citizens of the United States of America enjoy rights that many people in the world don't share. Of course, Americans also share great responsibilities too. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are built on and support these American values.
Students in Course E learn about what citizenship means, why we have government, what values the citizens of the United States hold, and the duties and responsibilities of United States citizens.
Even though kids of American parents are automatically U.S. citizens, sometimes Foreign Service kids grow up outside of the United States and fail to learn the basics about U.S. government and history. I hope you are helping your child get the resources and instruction in place so they won't feel embarrassed down the road.
Here's a sampling of some typical questions that could be asked on the naturalization test. Can your child pass?
I’m not trying to rush the end of summer, but the reality is that for Foreign Service families, we have to start thinking about "back to school" right now. Either you have to pick up school supplies to take back to post with you, or you need to get them ordered from Amazon or Walmart asap so they get delivered to you in time.
I know that you would rather be enjoying time with your family at the pool, visiting with grandparents, or squeezing in a few more family vacations so I’ve made it easy for you and have created all of your checklists and put them into ONE download.
This freebie gives you a list of your child’s school supplies, breakfast ideas for each day of the week, after-school snack ideas, and a clothes shopping checklist.
PLUS I’ve also included a 2018-2019 academic calendar that you can print out and add all of the school projects, parents-teacher conferences, and other school-related appointments to it. If you are able to, you should print it out on 11x17 paper, it’s totally worth it!
P.S. Don’t forget to get your props ready for those 1st day of school pictures.
"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start..." Obviously, it makes the most sense to learn history in chronological order. This can be difficult for Foreign Service kids because when you move around a lot, you might enter a grade at a school that is working through the American Civil War, but you haven't learned about the 13 Colonies or the Revolutionary War yet. Also, it's very possible that your International school does not teach the subject of American history at all, so there's that.
There's the simple solution to this problem though: U.S. History Abroad's online American history courses are designed for kids constantly on the move, who would otherwise miss out on learning about the people, places, and events that make up our Nation's history. You know what they say, "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots."
Today's freebie is a fun 20-question Quizlet for you and your kids to test your knowledge on the history of early America. In our online courses, your child will listen to stories, watch videos, hear songs, and have other activities that teach the historical information that kids need to know, but this quiz is just a little something that I created for everyone to enjoy right now.
Step 1. Click the red button to work through the online flash cards.
Step 2. Once you've mastered the material, change the "Choose a Study Mode" to MATCH and race for the top score. (This is usually the kids' favorite part.)
I hope you enjoyed brushing up on some early American history topics. Keep your eye out for an American civics blog post coming SOON!
We’re only about half way through the summer and I’m already receiving Summer Reading Program forms back from kids that have finished reading 8 books and have chosen their free book from U.S. History Abroad. (It's not too late to join!)
Here’s the thing, and I should have said it from the beginning, but YES, audiobooks count too! In our family, we are rarely in the car without an audiobook playing so I want to share some of our favorites with you. Especially if you have young kids who may not be ready to tackle reading some of these titles on their own.
Do you prefer the downloadable pdf checklist?